Sen. Helen Esuene, Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Matters, says early marriage is a major setback to self actualisation of the girl-child.
Esuene expressed this concern on Saturday in Uyo, at the ongoing 18th Biennial Conference and General Assembly of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN).
The theme of the conference was "The girl child: reaching out and raising opportunities for health, empowerment and education".
She said that early marriage was a hydra-headed monster that deprived the girl-child of her childhood, health, future and sometimes her life.
"Child marriage serves no useful purpose in the society and should be discontinued," she advised.
Esuene said that it was abnormal to practice such old culture in the 21st century world where the female gender was in a hurry to cover lost grounds in the area of public participation.
The senator said that the girl-child must be empowered with the right tools of education, self confidence, knowledge and absolute understanding of her physical makeup.
She said that the girl-child should be made to grow up to see herself as a complete and independent person, not a weak half.
Esuene added that the girl-child had been spotlighted in recent years due to attempts to correct her marginalisation caused by cultural and traditional practices.
"I am happy to note that some of the obnoxious cultural practices such as genital mutilation and fattening are fast becoming history," she added.
She also expressed concern that the level of girl-child education in the northern part of the country was still very low in spite of Universal Basic Education programme of the Federal Government.
The senate committee chairman noted that the UBE scheme guaranteed free junior secondary education, but had yet to be fully embraced by the girl-child in the North.
She said that the girl-child needed to acquire adequate knowledge to be in a position to impart same to her children later in life.